Something about the summer months makes me want to eat basil every night. The smell, the taste, it screams summer. The Husband can attest to my love of basil, I can taste it in anything and can smell it a mile a way. Last year I made a basil ice cream with a strawberry compote and a balsamic reduction. He doesn't love basil as much as I do (few people do), and so the ice cream wasn't nearly as much of a hit as I would have liked. Oh well, we learn.
So to me, pesto is a basil dish. Filled with delicious (and very good) olive oil and cheese and garlic, you can't forget the garlic and is drenched over pasta to the point if being able to throw another bunch of pasta in the empty serving bowl and be able to cover that again. I know, it's crazy.
With all of this basil love in mind, I recently found a recipe for a spicy sausage and scallion pesto that peaked my interest. I love spice, I love sausage (yes, that is what she said) and I love pesto. So I figured, it was worth a shot. And it was!
As I was cooking last night, The Husband made note to say it smelled delicious and when the dish was finished, I was really pleased. The scallions bring out a really awesome flavor in the sausage and the parsley balances it out, so that you don't feel like you're eating pureed scallion. The use of the pasta water really helps the dish. Unlike regular pesto, where the olive oil not only helps the binding, but also adds to the taste, olive oil in this dish would drown out the delicate flavors of the scallion and the parsley. And to boot, this is super quick. I think from start to finish this dish was 30 minutes. It took longer to boil the water than anything else.
4 Scallions cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
2 TBS Pine Nuts
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1LB hot Italian Turkey sausage, casings removed
1 TSP Crushed Red Pepper
In a large pot of generously salted boiling water, cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain the pasta, and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
While this is cooking, in a mini food processor, combine the scallions, parsley, pine nuts and 1/4 cup of the olive oil and process until pureed. Add the 1/2 cup of the cheese, season with salt and pepper and process the pesto just until blended. It’s going to be a bright green and will taste like salty scallions.
In a large skillet, add the sausage and cook over high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon and add the crushed red pepper (If you don’t like spice, don’t add it!), until it is lightly browned and no trace of pink remains, about 5 minutes.
In a bowl, combine the pesto, the pasta, the sausage and start with a ½ cup of the pasta water (you don’t want it to be runny) combine so that the pesto just covers the pasta; salt and pepper to taste. When serving, add some cheese and enjoy